1. Leadership support is key
The success of any transformation is intrinsically linked to the level of support and trust you’ll get from the organisation’s leadership. The product team might be at the centre of the transformation, but it will inevitably have an impact on every single department. As in the example of a train wheel on a track, if there is alignment then the friction is less, yet if there is misalignment, the noise, friction and vibration can set everyone and everything off course.
💡 Tip: If you don’t have the full support and commitment of the CEO, Board and the entire leadership team, you should first work on this before doing anything else.
2. Transformation takes time
To effectively manage and oversee the transformation of an organisation, it is essential to remember that change takes time. To mitigate impatience, identify and target low-hanging fruit that can serve as quick wins, while allowing time to focus on more complex issues. The timescales are not the same in all organisations, if principle 1 is in place, then the traction to momentum can be quicker than if you have ‘antibodies’ or ‘resistance’ in the leadership, therefore creating misalignment.
💡 Tip: To keep track of progress, maintain a comprehensive backlog of all necessary changes, and schedule regular reviews to ensure that the pace of transformation is appropriate.
3. It’s all about people
Each organisation is unique in its culture and people. To determine the most effective approach, it is important to take the time to observe current practices, interactions between stakeholders, and individual behaviours. You’ll then certainly spend a lot of time advocating for the changes you want to bring and get your key stakeholders on board. You may have to hold strong and have a certain level of confidence to face the storms you’ll go through. You need to have views, yet ensure that they are loosely held and can be shaped to fit within the realm you are operating within. Change comes from the inside, out yet needs experience outside, in to show what is possible to the people involved.
💡 Tip: To stay informed and on track, schedule regular one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders and team members to assess progress and ensure that changes are being implemented at the right time and pace.
4. Continuous improvement rather than perfection
While there are many industry leaders and experts (such as Marty Cagan, Teresa Torres, and Melissa Perri) whose work can serve as inspiration, it is important to remember that the goal should be to strive for continuous improvement rather than perfection. A clear vision for the end goal is important, but it is also necessary to be realistic about the current situation and identify the necessary steps to reach that goal. Not all organisations are able to see the value of product at the core, therefore a series of iterations and also building ‘showcase’ teams, with clear measurement of success in place, can help to illustrate continuous improvement.
💡 Tip: To ensure everyone is on the same page, organize workshops and brainstorming sessions to validate the perception of the most important improvements and manage expectations about what is possible within a given time frame.
5. Trade-offs are par for the course
In the process of transforming an organisation, there will be times when difficult decisions must be made, and trade-offs must be accepted to continue making progress. It is important to remember that an organisation is a living system and that product management is just one aspect of it. Pragmatism is required at all stages. Moving together as an organisation takes a number of turns, there will be frequent wrong turns or turns into what look like cul-de-sacs. Trade-offs can focus people on the turns which matter for the short-term yet with the long-term in sight. Traversing a city by road is never a straight path, trade-offs are your turns along the way.
💡 Tip: Remember that transforming an organisation takes time, and that short-term business considerations may take precedence over long-term changes.
6. Prioritization is key
There will always be opportunities for improvement, but not all changes are created equal in terms of importance and impact. To truly transform an organisation, carefully select the initiatives that will have the greatest impact, with the long-term vision in mind. While sometimes frustrating, prioritizing efforts is crucial for achieving long-term success.
💡 Tip: When uncertain, consider the long-term impact of your short-term actions. Prioritizing your efforts is key to maximizing your impact in the long run.
7. Communicate effectively and often
Communication is crucial in any collaboration, and it is vital in the process of transforming an organisation. Ensuring that all stakeholders are informed of progress and any changes being made is vital to the success of the transformation. If clear communication channels and structures are not already in place, then build them. Feedback will not come at first, yet keep communicating as you are unable to see that people are picking up the messages across the organisation over time, yet this feedback will come and then you can use this to exponentially increase knowledge and understanding across all teams/stakeholders.
💡 Tip: Regularly schedule team meetings, progress updates, and make sure everyone is on the same page. Use different channels and types of communication to adapt to your stakeholders (synchronous and asynchronous, text and video, etc.).
8. Celebrate success
Every achievement, no matter how small, should be recognized and celebrated. It is important to acknowledge the team’s hard work and dedication and keep morale high throughout the transformation process.
💡 Tip: Organize frequent activities and celebrate milestones together.
9. Keep a journal of the journey
Keeping a journal or record of the transformation process can be incredibly valuable. It allows you to track progress, reflect on successes and challenges, and refer back to key decisions and moments throughout the journey.
💡 Tip: Take regular notes, track the progress of your initiatives and use them as a guide for future references.
10. Avoid getting caught up in day-to-day operations
While it is important to focus on day-to-day operations, it is equally important not to get bogged down in them as a product coach. Keep your focus on the long-term goals and objectives of the transformation. Focusing on the day-to-day will distract from the bigger picture and also effect your ability to operate on the balcony, you will be dragged onto the dancefloor.
💡 Tip: Set clear expectations with everyone and regularly review them to ensure they are aligned with the transformation goals and your organisation’s needs.
11. The journey never ends
Remember that the process of transforming an organisation is never truly complete. It’s an ongoing journey, and there will always be opportunities for growth and improvement. Stay adaptable, and open-minded and continue to strive for excellence. Yet, it’s also important to know when to leave and how to empower the teams to continue on the journey without you.
💡 Tip: Regularly assess the progress and make necessary adjustments to keep the transformation on track.